I’M ONE OF THOSE CYCLISTS WHO LIKE NUMBERS. When I ride, I monitor my heart rate, I know my speed and cadence, and I track my mileage and calorie burn. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just happen to enjoy keeping the numerical values of each ride.
But I also know the importance of riding for the shear enjoyment of it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of over-analyzing each ride, a habit that has the potential of reducing the fun and making your ride seem more like a duty.
I think about this often, and offer you a few ways to keep cycling fun and interesting, and something to talk about with the folks who aren’t interested in your numbers. Take a look at the bike rides you do from a new perspective--at least some of the time.
Do you smell rain in the air? Analyze the clouds and wind direction and plot a course to escape the rain. If it adds ten miles to your ride, great! It’ll subtract additional calories from your daily intake. And it's fun challenge!
Interval action: Crank it up past that house with the loose, barking dog in the yard. Feeling strong or just a little bit daring? Go back the other way and give Fido a real aerobic workout. Throw him a doggie bone if he gets too close.
Find an alternate route. Research and map a new course to avoid that dusty, bumpy road construction.
Elevate the mundane. Your bike can elevate tedious car trips and errands into something that's enjoyable, healthy and memorable. Did you forget to mail those holiday cards to the nieces and nephews? Ride to the post office and drop them off. Or make your bank deposit from your bike at the drive up window. Getting in the queue with cars is always good for some quizzical looks and commentary from the kids in the car next to you.
Plan for fun. Don’t waste time sitting in the car waiting on someone. Recently, I drove my wife to an interview in an area of town I wasn’t familiar with. I checked out the roads on Google Maps, threw my bike in the back of the Jeep, and delivered her to her interview. Rather than a long boring wait sitting in the car, I unloaded my bike, went for a fun ride on some beautiful open roads in the outskirts of town, and came back an hour later. By the time I cooled down and re-loaded my bike, my wife was finished and we drove home--me with 600 calories less than when we started.
Lunch rides: If I know I can’t get away for a longer ride, I’ll take a short lunch ride. Short is better than none. I generally leave after 1:00 P.M. to avoid lunch hour traffic and get in 45 to 60 minutes of riding. Back at work, I feel energized for the remainder of the day.
You say your Saturday morning ride buddies cancelled? Now would be a great time to take a small camera with you on the ride, and photograph some other cyclists that you pass along the way, or the fishing boats pulling out of the harbor, or the livestock lounging in the pasture. Try to get your bike in the photo as well. It’ll make your story more interesting later.
So, is your cycling on purpose, or for fun? Your bike, that simplest of human-powered machines can be both--and more. It can help you make a statement, save fuel and money, reduce your carbon footprint, burn calories, become your fitness regimen, or just deliver fun, purposeful, memorable good times. Cycling is what you make it.